Nagoya Preview - Ardija Need To Improve Away Scores
Omiya Ardija may have won three matches on the run - something they managed only once last season, when a late spurt of four consecutive victories dragged the team out of the relegation zone - but ahead of the game at Nagoya Grampus 8 on Wednesday evening, it needs to be acknowledged that the team's away record this season has given major cause for concern. The visit to Fukuoka back in March for round 2 yielded a somewhat fortunate 1-1 draw, and Daigo Kobayashi's wonderful late free kick gave the Squirrels three points at FC Tokyo just before the World Cup break. But in six games, Omiya have been defeated four times and have conceded twelve.
Current Squirrels hero Tatsunori Hisanaga prepares to take on Nagoya
That said, they will most likely never have a better opportunity to improve their away form than at Nagoya. Sef Vergoosen's team have had a disastrous run of late and indeed go into tomorrow's fixture without a win in ten games, having conceded eight against Gamba Osaka and Sanfrecce Hiroshima since the J1 re-start.
Although Japan World Cup forward Keiji Tamada hit the net in both of those matches, Grampus have the second worst scoring record in the division and are averaging fewer than a goal per game. Much-needed striker Frode Johnsen is reported to be joining from Rosenborg in Norway, but it is thought unlikely that he will be in Japan early enough to face Ardija.
"Nagoya use set plays a lot and try to take advantage of their height. We need to take account of that and the fact that they have quick players up front," said coach Toshiya Miura, as his team prepared for the trip to Aichi prefecture. "Their position at the moment isn't great but they'll be a fighting team and their squad is full of potential, so we need to keep things tight and to improve on this things that haven't gone so well in the last couple of games."
For the Squirrels, a clean sheet will be a top priority, as the defence work to avoid sluggish starts and the conceding of sloppy goals - but unusually, all appears rosey in the offensive garden. "I'm feeling great at the moment, physically and mentally," said Brazilian forward Gral, scorer of two excellent headers against Ventforet Kofu on Saturday. "Our teamwork has really been developing well lately and I think the tough training regime that we had at Tsumagoi is now paying off - we're working together more effectively and playing the kind of football that the coach wants."